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Environment, Health & Transportation: Motor Vehicles and Air Pollution





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The Environment & Cars

Worldwide, a quarter of a million people die on the roads every year and ten million are injured, a scale equivalent to war. Motor vehicles are the single biggest source of atmospheric pollution. There are two of the points highlighted in a report by Greenpeace UK entitled "The Environmental Impact of the Car." It is available from Greenpeace UK, Canonbury Villas, London N1 2PN, UK, priced L5.

Motors contribute the following to the cocktail entering Londoners' lungs:

  • 75 per cent of nitrogen oxides
  • 83 per cent of benzene
  • 77 per cent of particualtes
  • 53 per cent of volatile organic compounds
  • 29 per cent of carbon dioxide
  • 97 per cent of carbon monoxide.

Bicycle Health Facts

Biking Health Statistics and Facts. Annotated page on mental and physical health, and safety of urban cyclists.

More Die from Car Pollution than Road Accidents

LONDON - Road traffic is the fastest growing source of pollution in Europe and in some countries more people are dying as a result of this air pollution than are being killed in accidents, health experts said yesterday.

A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) showed long-term air pollution from cars in Austria, France and Switzerland triggered an extra 21,000 premature deaths per year from respiratory or heart diseases, more than the total number of annual traffic deaths in the three countries.

"Air pollution from traffic at the levels we have today does cause a major health impact," Dr Carlos Dora, of the WHO center for health and environment in Rome, told a new conference.

The report shows air pollution from cars caused 300,000 extra cases of bronchitis in children, 15,000 hospital admissions for heart disease and 162,000 asthma attacks in children in the three countries.

"The growing evidence that air pollution is causing a major health burden adds to the effects of road traffic through noise, accidents and barriers to cycling and walking, and we need to address this head on," Dora added.
[Patricia Reaney, Reuters, 16.6. 99]

Air Pollution

Source for the Following: Clean Air Regional Workshop - Fighting Air Pollution: From Plan to Action. UN Conference Centre, Bangkok, Thailand. 12-14 February 2001. Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

*Shah, Jitendra. Integrated Air Quality Management: From Plan to Action. Paper No. 6.

Annual cost of congestion and air pollution in selected Asian cities (US$ million) -- 


Congestion 400
Air Pollution 1300-3100


Congestion 154
Air Pollution 6154


Congestion 51
Air Pollution 1800


Congestion 68
Air Pollution 400-800

* FU Lixin and Ying YUAN. Beijing's Recent Efforts on Reducing Motor Vehicle Emissions. Paper No. 10.

Estimate that, in Beiing, 73% of ambient concentration of NOx and 84% of CO is from motor vehicles.

* Wai-chuen Mok. Hong Kong Experiencing on Fighting Smoky Diesel Vehicles. Paper No 11.

Percent of particulate emissions in Hong Kong from motor vehicle sources increased from approximately 34 percent of total in 1992 to approximately 48 percent in 1998.

* Le Van Khoa. Air Quality Management in Ho Chi Minh City. Paper No. 13.

Results of Roadside Air Monitoring at Hang Xanh Station in Ho Chi Minh city (annual average concentrations)

CO (mg/m3)

1997 - 9.85
1998 - 6.88
1999 - 6.94
2000 - 7.99
Vietnam Standard 40

PM (mg/m3)

1997 - 0.55
1998 - 0.73
1999 - 0.99
2000 - 0.96
Vietnam Standard 0.3

Lead (microgram/m3)

1997 - 2.5
1998 - 2.5
1999 - 2.5
2000 - 2.4
Vietnam Standard 5.0

NO2 (mg/m3)

1997 - 0.097
1998 - 0.119
1999 - 0.122
2000 - 0.139
Vietnam Standard 0.4

* Nathanon Thavisin. Management of Air Quality of Bangkok Metropolitan.  "Pollution Free Road" campaign in Bangkok; informational campaign (roadside signs with occasional police enforcement to gain the "cooperation" of motorists, especially single-occupant vehicles, in not using selected roads) 24-hour average concentration PM-10 measurements in 1999 (prior to campaign) and May 2000 (after). (micrograms/cubic meter)

Average of  8 roads in Bangkok

1999: 273
2000: 159
Note: legal standard in Thailand = 120

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